Showing 126 - 150 of 1087 results
New light on the mechanism of phototransduction in phototropin.
Phototropins are photoreceptor proteins, which regulate blue light dependent biological processes for efficient photosynthesis in plants and algae. The proteins consist of a photosensory domain that responds to the ambient light and an output module that triggers cellular responses. The photosensory domain of phototropin from Chlamydomonas reinhardtii contains two conserved LOV (Light-Oxygen-Voltage) domains with flavin chromophores. Blue light triggers the formation of a covalent cysteine-flavin adduct and upregulates the phototropin kinase activity. Little is known about the structural mechanism which leads to kinase activation and how the two LOV domains contribute to this. Here, we investigate the role of the LOV1 domain from Chlamydomonas reinhardtii phototropin by characterizing the structural changes occurring after blue light illumination with nano- millisecond time-resolved X-ray solution scattering. By structurally fitting the data with atomic models generated by molecular dynamics simulations, we find that the adduct formation induces a rearrangement of the hydrogen bond network from the buried chromophore to the protein surface. Particularly, the change in conformation and associated hydrogen bonding of the conserved glutamine 120 induce a global movement of the β-sheet, ultimately driving a change in electrostatic potential on the protein surface. Based on the change of electrostatics, we propose a structural model of how LOV1 and LOV2 domains interact and regulate the full-length phototropin from Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. This provides a rationale for how LOV photosensor proteins function and contributes to the optimal design of optogenetic tools based on LOV domains.
Phosphofructokinase Relocalizes into Subcellular Compartments with Liquid-like Properties In Vivo.
Although much is known about the biochemical regulation of glycolytic enzymes, less is understood about how they are organized inside cells. We systematically examine the dynamic subcellular localization of glycolytic protein phosphofructokinase-1/PFK-1.1 in Caenorhabditis elegans. We determine that endogenous PFK-1.1 localizes to subcellular compartments in vivo. In neurons, PFK-1.1 forms phase-separated condensates near synapses in response to energy stress from transient hypoxia. Restoring animals to normoxic conditions results in cytosolic dispersion of PFK-1.1. PFK-1.1 condensates exhibit liquid-like properties, including spheroid shapes due to surface tension, fluidity due to deformations, and fast internal molecular rearrangements. Heterologous self-association domain cryptochrome 2 promotes formation of PFK-1.1 condensates and recruitment of aldolase/ALDO-1. PFK-1.1 condensates do not correspond to stress granules and might represent novel metabolic subcompartments. Our studies indicate that glycolytic protein PFK-1.1 can dynamically form condensates in vivo.
Excited State Vibrations of Isotopically Labeled FMN Free and Bound to a Light-Oxygen-Voltage (LOV) Protein.
Flavoproteins are important blue light sensors in photobiology and play a key role in optogenetics. The characterization of their excited state structure and dynamics is thus an important objective. Here, we present a detailed study of excited state vibrational spectra of flavin mononucleotide (FMN), in solution and bound to the LOV-2 (Light-Oxygen-Voltage) domain of Avena sativa phototropin. Vibrational frequencies are determined for the optically excited singlet state and the reactive triplet state, through resonant ultrafast femtosecond stimulated Raman spectroscopy (FSRS). To assign the observed spectra, vibrational frequencies of the excited states are calculated using density functional theory, and both measurement and theory are applied to four different isotopologues of FMN. Excited state mode assignments are refined in both states, and their sensitivity to deuteration and protein environment are investigated. We show that resonant FSRS provides a useful tool for characterizing photoactive flavoproteins and is able to highlight chromophore localized modes and to record hydrogen/deuterium exchange.
Dynamic centriolar localization of Polo and Centrobin in early mitosis primes centrosome asymmetry.
Centrosomes, the main microtubule organizing centers (MTOCs) of metazoan cells, contain an older "mother" and a younger "daughter" centriole. Stem cells either inherit the mother or daughter-centriole-containing centrosome, providing a possible mechanism for biased delivery of cell fate determinants. However, the mechanisms regulating centrosome asymmetry and biased centrosome segregation are unclear. Using 3D-structured illumination microscopy (3D-SIM) and live-cell imaging, we show in fly neural stem cells (neuroblasts) that the mitotic kinase Polo and its centriolar protein substrate Centrobin (Cnb) accumulate on the daughter centriole during mitosis, thereby generating molecularly distinct mother and daughter centrioles before interphase. Cnb's asymmetric localization, potentially involving a direct relocalization mechanism, is regulated by Polo-mediated phosphorylation, whereas Polo's daughter centriole enrichment requires both Wdr62 and Cnb. Based on optogenetic protein mislocalization experiments, we propose that the establishment of centriole asymmetry in mitosis primes biased interphase MTOC activity, necessary for correct spindle orientation.
Optogenetic control of heterologous metabolism in E. coli.
Multi-objective optimization of microbial chassis for the production of xenobiotic compounds requires the implementation of metabolic control strategies that permit dynamic distribution of cellular resources between biomass and product formation. We addressed this need in a previous study by engineering the T7 RNA polymerase to be thermally responsive. The modified polymerase is activated only after the temperature of the host cell falls below 18oC, and Escherichia coli cells that employ the protein to transcribe the heterologous lycopene biosynthetic pathway exhibit impressive improvements in productivity. We have expanded our toolbox of metabolic switches in the current study by engineering a version of the T7 RNA polymerase that drives the transition between biomass and product formation upon stimulation with red light. The engineered polymerase is expressed as two distinct polypeptide chains. Each chain comprises one of two photoactive components from Arabidopsis thaliana, phytochrome B (PhyB) and phytochrome-integrating factor 3 (PIF3), as well as the N- or C-terminus domains of both, the vacuolar ATPase subunit (VMA) intein of Saccharomyces cerevisiae and the polymerase. Red light drives photodimerization of PhyB and PIF3, which then brings together the N- and C-terminus domains of the VMA intein. Trans-splicing of the intein follows suit and produces an active form of the polymerase that subsequently transcribes any sequence that is under the control of a T7 promoter. The photodimerization also involves a third element, the cyanobacterial chromophore phycocyanobilin (PCB), which too is expressed heterologously by E. coli. We deployed this version of the T7 RNA polymerase to control the production of lycopene in E. coli and observed tight control of pathway expression. We tested a variety of expression configurations to identify one that imposes the lowest metabolic burden on the strain, and we subsequently optimized key parameters such as the source, moment and duration of photostimulation. We also identified targets for future refinement of the circuit. In summary, our work is a significant advance for the field and greatly expands on previous work by other groups that have used optogenetic circuits to control heterologous metabolism in prokaryotic hosts.
CreLite: An Optogenetically Controlled Cre/loxP System Using Red Light.
Precise manipulation of gene expression with temporal and spatial control is essential for functional analysis and determining cell lineage relationships in complex biological systems. The Cre-loxP system is commonly used for gene manipulation at desired times and places. However, specificity is dependent on the availability of tissue- or cell-specific regulatory elements used in combination with Cre. Here we present CreLite, an optogenetically-controlled Cre system using red light in developing zebrafish embryos. Cre activity is disabled by splitting Cre and fusing with the Arabidopsis thaliana red light-inducible binding partners, PhyB and PIF6. Upon red light illumination, the PhyB-CreC and PIF6-CreN fusion proteins come together in the presence of the cofactor phycocyanobilin (PCB) to restore Cre activity. Red light exposure of zebrafish embryos harboring a Cre-dependent multi-color fluorescent protein reporter injected with CreLite mRNAs and PCB resulted in Cre activity as measured by the generation of multi-spectral cell labeling in several different tissues. Our data show that CreLite can be used for gene manipulations in whole embryos or small groups of cells at different developmental stages, and suggests CreLite may also be useful for temporal and spatial control of gene expression in cell culture, ex vivo organ culture, and other animal models. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Exploiting natural chemical photosensitivity of anhydrotetracycline and tetracycline for dynamic and setpoint chemo-optogenetic control.
The transcriptional inducer anhydrotetracycline (aTc) and the bacteriostatic antibiotic tetracycline (Tc) are commonly used in all fields of biology for control of transcription or translation. A drawback of these and other small molecule inducers is the difficulty of their removal from cell cultures, limiting their application for dynamic control. Here, we describe a simple method to overcome this limitation, and show that the natural photosensitivity of aTc/Tc can be exploited to turn them into highly predictable optogenetic transcriptional- and growth-regulators. This new optogenetic class uniquely features both dynamic and setpoint control which act via population-memory adjustable through opto-chemical modulation. We demonstrate this method by applying it for dynamic gene expression control and for enhancing the performance of an existing optogenetic system. We then expand the utility of the aTc system by constructing a new chemical bandpass filter that increases its aTc response range. The simplicity of our method enables scientists and biotechnologists to use their existing systems employing aTc/Tc for dynamic optogenetic experiments without genetic modification.
In situ characterisation and manipulation of biological systems with Chi.Bio.
The precision and repeatability of in vivo biological studies is predicated upon methods for isolating a targeted subsystem from external sources of noise and variability. However, in many experimental frameworks, this is made challenging by nonstatic environments during host cell growth, as well as variability introduced by manual sampling and measurement protocols. To address these challenges, we developed Chi.Bio, a parallelised open-source platform that represents a new experimental paradigm in which all measurement and control actions can be applied to a bulk culture in situ. In addition to continuous-culturing capabilities, it incorporates tunable light outputs, spectrometry, and advanced automation features. We demonstrate its application to studies of cell growth and biofilm formation, automated in silico control of optogenetic systems, and readout of multiple orthogonal fluorescent proteins in situ. By integrating precise measurement and actuation hardware into a single low-cost platform, Chi.Bio facilitates novel experimental methods for synthetic, systems, and evolutionary biology and broadens access to cutting-edge research capabilities.
An optogenetic system to control membrane phospholipid asymmetry through flippase activation in budding yeast.
Lipid asymmetry in biological membranes is essential for various cell functions, such as cell polarity, cytokinesis, and apoptosis. P4-ATPases (flippases) are involved in the generation of such asymmetry. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the protein kinases Fpk1p/Fpk2p activate the P4-ATPases Dnf1p/Dnf2p by phosphorylation. Previously, we have shown that a blue-light-dependent protein kinase, phototropin from Chlamydomonas reinhardtii (CrPHOT), complements defects in an fpk1Δ fpk2Δ mutant. Herein, we investigated whether CrPHOT optically regulates P4-ATPase activity. First, we demonstrated that the translocation of NBD-labelled phospholipids to the cytoplasmic leaflet via P4-ATPases was promoted by blue-light irradiation in fpk1Δ fpk2Δ cells with CrPHOT. In addition, blue light completely suppressed the defects in membrane functions (such as endocytic recycling, actin depolarization, and apical-isotropic growth switching) caused by fpk1Δ fpk2Δ mutations. All responses required the kinase activity of CrPHOT. Hence, these results indicate the utility of CrPHOT as a powerful and first tool for optogenetic manipulation of P4-ATPase activity.
Lights up on organelles: Optogenetic tools to control subcellular structure and organization.
Since the neurobiological inception of optogenetics, light-controlled molecular perturbations have been applied in many scientific disciplines to both manipulate and observe cellular function. Proteins exhibiting light-sensitive conformational changes provide researchers with avenues for spatiotemporal control over the cellular environment and serve as valuable alternatives to chemically inducible systems. Optogenetic approaches have been developed to target proteins to specific subcellular compartments, allowing for the manipulation of nuclear translocation and plasma membrane morphology. Additionally, these tools have been harnessed for molecular interrogation of organelle function, location, and dynamics. Optogenetic approaches offer novel ways to answer fundamental biological questions and to improve the efficiency of bioengineered cell factories by controlling the assembly of synthetic organelles. This review first provides a summary of available optogenetic systems with an emphasis on their organelle-specific utility. It then explores the strategies employed for organelle targeting and concludes by discussing our perspective on the future of optogenetics to control subcellular structure and organization. This article is categorized under: Laboratory Methods and Technologies > Genetic/Genomic Methods Physiology > Physiology of Model Organisms Biological Mechanisms > Regulatory Biology Models of Systems Properties and Processes > Cellular Models.
A non-invasive far-red light-induced split-Cre recombinase system for controllable genome engineering in mice.
The Cre-loxP recombination system is a powerful tool for genetic manipulation. However, there are widely recognized limitations with chemically inducible Cre-loxP systems, and the UV and blue-light induced systems have phototoxicity and minimal capacity for deep tissue penetration. Here, we develop a far-red light-induced split Cre-loxP system (FISC system) based on a bacteriophytochrome optogenetic system and split-Cre recombinase, enabling optogenetical regulation of genome engineering in vivo solely by utilizing a far-red light (FRL). The FISC system exhibits low background and no detectable photocytotoxicity, while offering efficient FRL-induced DNA recombination. Our in vivo studies showcase the strong organ-penetration capacity of FISC system, markedly outperforming two blue-light-based Cre systems for recombination induction in the liver. Demonstrating its strong clinical relevance, we successfully deploy a FISC system using adeno-associated virus (AAV) delivery. Thus, the FISC system expands the optogenetic toolbox for DNA recombination to achieve spatiotemporally controlled, non-invasive genome engineering in living systems.
Photoactivatable oncolytic adenovirus for optogenetic cancer therapy.
Virotherapy using oncolytic adenovirus is an effective anticancer strategy. However, the tumor selectivity of oncolytic adenoviruses is not enough high. To develop oncolytic adenovirus with a low risk of off-tumor toxicity, we constructed a photoactivatable oncolytic adenovirus (paOAd). In response to blue light irradiation, the expression of adenoviral E1 genes, which are necessary for adenoviral replication, is induced and replication of this adenovirus occurs. In vitro, efficient lysis of various human cancer cell lines was observed by paOAd infection followed by blue light irradiation. Importantly, there was no off-tumor toxicity unless the cells were irradiated by blue light. In vivo, tumor growth in a subcutaneous tumor model and a mouse model of liver cancer was significantly inhibited by paOAd infection followed by blue light irradiation. In addition, paOAd also showed a therapeutic effect on cancer stem cells. These results suggest that paOAd is useful as a safe and therapeutically effective cancer therapy.
Photo-SNAP-tag, a Light-Regulated Chemical Labeling System.
Methods that allow labeling and tracking of proteins have been instrumental for understanding their function. Traditional methods for labeling proteins include fusion to fluorescent proteins or self-labeling chemical tagging systems such as SNAP-tag or Halo-tag. These latter approaches allow bright fluorophores or other chemical moieties to be attached to a protein of interest through a small fusion tag. In this work, we sought to improve the versatility of self-labeling chemical-tagging systems by regulating their activity with light. We used light-inducible dimerizers to reconstitute a split SNAP-tag (modified human O6-alkylguanine-DNA-alkyltransferase, hAGT) protein, allowing tight light-dependent control of chemical labeling. In addition, we generated a small split SNAP-tag fragment that can efficiently self-assemble with its complement fragment, allowing high labeling efficacy with a small tag. We envision these tools will extend the versatility and utility of the SNAP-tag chemical system for protein labeling applications.
Orthogonal Blue and Red Light Controlled Cell-Cell Adhesions Enable Sorting-out in Multicellular Structures.
The self-assembly of different cell types into multicellular structures and their organization into spatiotemporally controlled patterns are both challenging and extremely powerful to understand how cells function within tissues and for bottom-up tissue engineering. Here, we not only independently control the self-assembly of two cell types into multicellular architectures with blue and red light, but also achieve their self-sorting into distinct assemblies. This required developing two cell types that form selective and homophilic cell-cell interactions either under blue or red light using photoswitchable proteins as artificial adhesion molecules. The interactions were individually triggerable with different colors of light, reversible in the dark, and provide noninvasive and temporal control over the cell-cell adhesions. In mixtures of the two cells, each cell type self-assembled independently upon orthogonal photoactivation, and cells sorted out into separate assemblies based on specific self-recognition. These self-sorted multicellular architectures provide us with a powerful tool for producing tissue-like structures from multiple cell types and investigate principles that govern them.
Syntaxin Clustering and Optogenetic Control for Synaptic Membrane Fusion.
Membrane fusion during synaptic transmission mediates the trafficking of chemical signals and neuronal communication. The fast kinetics of membrane fusion on the order of millisecond is precisely regulated by the assembly of SNAREs and accessory proteins. It is believed that the formation of the SNARE complex is a key step during membrane fusion. Little is known, however, about the molecular machinery that mediates the formation of a large pre-fusion complex, including multiple SNAREs and accessory proteins. Syntaxin, a transmembrane protein on the plasma membrane, has been observed to undergo oligomerization to form clusters. Whether this clustering plays a critical role in membrane fusion is poorly understood in live cells. Optogenetics is an emerging biotechnology armed with the capacity to precisely modulate protein-protein interaction in time and space. Here, we propose an experimental scheme that combines optogenetics with single-vesicle membrane fusion, aiming to gain a better understanding of the molecular mechanism by which the syntaxin cluster regulates membrane fusion. We envision that newly developed optogenetic tools could facilitate the mechanistic understanding of synaptic transmission in live cells and animals.
Bringing Light into Cell-Free Expression.
Cell-free systems, as part of the synthetic biology field, have become a critical platform in biological studies. However, there is a lack of research into developing a switch for a dynamical control of the transcriptional and translational process. The optogenetic tool has been widely proven as an ideal control switch for protein synthesis due to its nontoxicity and excellent time-space conversion. Hence, in this study, a blue light-regulated two-component system named YF1/FixJ was incorporated into an Escherichia coli-based cell-free system to control protein synthesis. The corresponding cell-free system successfully achieved a 5-fold dynamic protein expression by blue light repression and 3-fold dynamic expression by blue light activation. With the aim of expanding the applications of cell-free synthetic biology, the cell-free blue light-sensing system was used to perform imaging, light-controlled antibody synthesis, and light-triggered artificial cell assembly. This study can provide a guide for further research into the field of cell-free optical sensing. Moreover, it will also promote the development of cell-free synthetic biology and optogenetics through applying the cell-free optical sensing system to synthetic biology education, biopharmaceutical research, and artificial cell construction.
Novel culture system via wirelessly controllable optical stimulation of the FGF signaling pathway for human and pig pluripotency.
Stem cell fate is largely determined by cellular signaling networks and is heavily dependent on the supplementation of exogenous recombinant proteins into culture media; however, uneven distribution and inconsistent stability of recombinant proteins are closely associated with the spontaneous differentiation of pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) and result in significant costs in large-scale manufacturing. Here, we report a novel PSC culture system via wirelessly controllable optical activation of the fibroblast growth factor (FGF) signaling pathway without the need for supplementation of recombinant FGF2 protein, a key molecule for maintaining pluripotency of PSCs. Using a fusion protein between the cytoplasmic region of the FGF receptor-1 and a light-oxygen-voltage domain, we achieved tunable, blue light-dependent activation of FGF signaling in human and porcine PSCs. Our data demonstrate that a highly controllable optical stimulation of the FGF signaling pathway is sufficient for long-term maintenance of PSCs, without the loss of differentiation potential into three germ layers. This culture system will be a cost-effective platform for a large-scale stem cell culture.
Optogenetic Downregulation of Protein Levels to Control Programmed Cell Death in Mammalian Cells with a Dual Blue-Light Switch.
Optogenetic approaches facilitate the study of signaling and metabolic pathways in animal cell systems. In the past 10 years, a plethora of light-regulated switches for the targeted control over the induction of gene expression, subcellular localization of proteins, membrane receptor activity, and other cellular processes have been developed and successfully implemented. However, only a few tools have been engineered toward the quantitative and spatiotemporally resolved downregulation of proteins. Here we present a protocol for reversible and rapid blue light-induced reduction of protein levels in mammalian cells. By implementing a dual-regulated optogenetic switch (Blue-OFF), both repression of gene expression and degradation of the target protein are triggered simultaneously. We apply this system for the blue light-mediated control of programmed cell death. HEK293T cells are transfected with the proapoptotic proteins PUMA and BID integrated into the Blue-OFF system. Overexpression of these proteins leads to programmed cell death, which can be prevented by irradiation with blue light. This experimental approach is very straightforward, requires just simple hardware, and therefore can be easily implemented in state-of-the-art equipped mammalian cell culture labs. The system can be used for targeted cell signaling studies and biotechnological applications.
Dual Activation of cAMP Production Through Photostimulation or Chemical Stimulation.
cAMP is a crucial mediator of multiple cell signaling pathways. This cyclic nucleotide requires strict spatiotemporal control for effective function. Light-activated proteins have become a powerful tool to study signaling kinetics due to having quick on/off rates and minimal off-target effects. The photoactivated adenylyl cyclase from Beggiatoa (bPAC) produces cAMP rapidly upon stimulation with blue light. However, light delivery is not always feasible, especially in vivo. Hence, we created a luminescence-activated cyclase by fusing bPAC with nanoluciferase (nLuc) to allow chemical activation of cAMP activity. This dual-activated adenylyl cyclase can be stimulated using short bursts of light or long-term chemical activation with furimazine and other related luciferins. Together these can be used to mimic transient, chronic, and oscillating patterns of cAMP signaling. Moreover, when coupled to compartment-specific targeting domains, these reagents provide a new powerful tool for cAMP spatiotemporal dynamic studies. Here, we describe detailed methods for working with bPAC-nLuc in mammalian cells, stimulating cAMP production with light and luciferins, and measuring total cAMP accumulation.
Design and Application of Light-Regulated Receptor Tyrosine Kinases.
Understanding how the activity of membrane receptors and cellular signaling pathways shapes cell behavior is of fundamental interest in basic and applied research. Reengineering receptors to react to light instead of their cognate ligands allows for generating defined signaling inputs with high spatial and temporal precision and facilitates the dissection of complex signaling networks. Here, we describe fundamental considerations in the design of light-regulated receptor tyrosine kinases (Opto-RTKs) and appropriate control experiments. We also introduce methods for transient receptor expression in HEK293 cells, quantitative assessment of signaling activity in reporter gene assays, semiquantitative assessment of (in)activation time courses through Western blot (WB) analysis, and easy to implement light stimulation hardware.
Engineering Optogenetic Protein Analogs.
This chapter provides an overview of the technologies we have developed to control proteins with light. First, we focus on the LOV domain, a versatile building block with reversible photo-response, kinetics tunable through mutagenesis, and ready expression in a broad range of cells and animals. Incorporation of LOV into proteins produced a variety of approaches: simple steric block of the active site released when irradiation lengthened a linker (PA-GTPases), reversible release from sequestration at mitochondria (LOVTRAP), and Z-lock, a method in which a light-cleavable bridge is placed where it occludes the active site. The latter two methods make use of Zdk, small engineered proteins that bind selectively to the dark state of LOV. In order to control endogenous proteins, inhibitory peptides are embedded in the LOV domain where they are exposed only upon irradiation (PKA and MLCK inhibition). Similarly, controlled exposure of a nuclear localization sequence and nuclear export sequence is used to reversibly send proteins into the nucleus. Another avenue of engineering makes use of the heterodimerization of FKBP and FRB proteins, induced by the small molecule rapamycin. We control rapamycin with light or simply add it to target cells. Incorporation of fused FKBP-FRB into kinases, guanine exchange factors, or GTPases leads to rapamycin-induced protein activation. Kinases are engineered so that they can interact with only a specific substrate upon activation. Recombination of split proteins using rapamycin-induced conformational changes minimizes spontaneous reassembly. Finally, we explore the insertion of LOV or rapamycin-responsive domains into proteins such that light-induced conformational changes exert allosteric control of the active site. We hope these design ideas will inspire new applications and broaden our reach towards dynamic biological processes that unfold when studied in vivo.
Optogenetic Control of Nucleocytoplasmic Protein Transport.
The transport of proteins between the nucleus and the cytosol is a vital process regulating cellular activity. The ability to spatiotemporally control the nucleocytoplasmic transport of a protein of interest allows for elucidating its function taking into account the dynamic and heterogeneous nature of biological processes contrary to conventional knockin, knockout, and chemically induced overexpression strategies. We recently developed two optogenetic tools, called LINuS and LEXY, for reversibly controlling with blue light the nuclear import and export of proteins of interest, respectively. Here we describe how to use them to control the localization of a protein of interest in cultured mammalian cells using a fluorescence microscope.
Optogenetic Techniques for Manipulating and Sensing G Protein-Coupled Receptor Signaling.
G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) form the largest class of membrane receptors in the mammalian genome with nearly 800 human genes encoding for unique subtypes. Accordingly, GPCR signaling is implicated in nearly all physiological processes. However, GPCRs have been difficult to study due in part to the complexity of their function which can lead to a plethora of converging or diverging downstream effects over different time and length scales. Classic techniques such as pharmacological control, genetic knockout and biochemical assays often lack the precision required to probe the functions of specific GPCR subtypes. Here we describe the rapidly growing set of optogenetic tools, ranging from methods for optical control of the receptor itself to optical sensing and manipulation of downstream effectors. These tools permit the quantitative measurements of GPCRs and their downstream signaling with high specificity and spatiotemporal precision.
Optogenetics and CRISPR: A New Relationship Built to Last.
Since the breakthrough discoveries that CRISPR-Cas9 nucleases can be easily programmed and employed to induce targeted double-strand breaks in mammalian cells, the gene editing field has grown exponentially. Today, CRISPR technologies based on engineered class II CRISPR effectors facilitate targeted modification of genes and RNA transcripts. Moreover, catalytically impaired CRISPR-Cas variants can be employed as programmable DNA binding domains and used to recruit effector proteins, such as transcriptional regulators, epigenetic modifiers or base-modifying enzymes, to selected genomic loci. The juxtaposition of CRISPR and optogenetics enables spatiotemporally confined and highly dynamic genome perturbations in living cells and animals and holds unprecedented potential for biology and biomedicine.Here, we provide an overview of the state-of-the-art methods for light-control of CRISPR effectors. We will detail the plethora of exciting applications enabled by these systems, including spatially confined genome editing, timed activation of endogenous genes, as well as remote control of chromatin-chromatin interactions. Finally, we will discuss limitations of current optogenetic CRISPR tools and point out routes for future innovation in this emerging field.
Creating Red Light-Controlled Protein Dimerization Systems as Genetically Encoded Actuators with High Specificity.
Protein dimerization systems that can be controlled by red light with increased tissue penetration depth are a highly needed optogenetic tool for clinical applications such as cell and gene therapies. However, existing red light-induced dimerization systems are all based on phytochrome photoreceptors and naturally occurring binding partners with complex structures and suboptimal in vivo performance, limiting mammalian applications. Here, we introduce an efficient, generalizable method (COMBINES-LID) for creating highly specific light-induced dimerization systems. Proof-of-principle was provided by creating nanobody-based, red light-induced dimerization (nanoReD) systems comprising a truncated bacterial phytochrome sensory module using a mammalian endogenous chromophore, biliverdin, and light-form specific nanobodies. Selected nanoReD systems were biochemically characterized and exhibited low dark activity and high induction specificity for in vivo activation of gene expression. Overall, COMBINES-LID opens new opportunities for creating genetically encoded actuators for the optical manipulation of biological processes.